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Baseball's return includes several comeback stories

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Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco delivers in the third inning in a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals, Sunday, July 26, 2020, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Carlos Carrasco won his first start since his leukemia diagnosis, Yoenis Céspedes hit a home run in his return from major leg problems — and Daniel Bard had the longest road back of them all.

This past week was obviously an emotional one for many people in baseball, and it was especially significant for players who had lengthy absences even before the coronavirus shut the sport down in March. Bard had not pitched in the major leagues since 2013, and after his control and confidence deserted him, his playing career appeared over before he attempted a comeback this year. He made the roster for the Colorado Rockies and earned the win in relief Saturday against Texas.

Carrasco was diagnosed with leukemia last year. He was back in the bullpen for Cleveland in September and took the mound Sunday as a starter, beating Kansas City. Céspedes hadn't played since 2018 — he had surgery on both heels and broke an ankle — but he was back Friday, homering for the New York Mets for the game's only run against Atlanta.

Not all comebacks went that smoothly. Shohei Ohtani returned to the mound to pitch for the first time since 2018, but the two-way star didn't get an out Sunday in the Los Angeles Angels' loss to Oakland. Ohtani didn't pitch last season following Tommy John surgery.

Corey Kluber, traded from Cleveland to Texas in the offseason, left his debut with the Rangers on Sunday with shoulder tightness. He went just one inning in what was his first start in almost 15 months. Kluber missed most of last season because of a broken arm.

SOCIAL DISTANCING?

Old habits are hard to break.

One of the big questions coming into this season was how the game's emotions would be affected by the lack of fans and the distancing protocols designed to protect against the virus. What would the scene be like when someone hit a game-winning homer?